Will the Tampa Bay Rays run wild on the Angels?
The Rays, who at 22-9 have baseball's best record, rank third in the American League with 29 stolen bases; Mike Napoli, who will start behind the plate for the Angels tonight, has thrown out only two of 24 base-stealers this season, a success rate of 8.3%.
"You've got to keep those lead guys off base," said Angels catcher Jeff Mathis, who is on the disabled list because of a broken bone in his right wrist. "They manufacture runs and run the bases well."
Though the Seattle Mariners were successful on all four stolen-base attempts against Napoli on Sunday, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia was encouraged by Napoli's "glove-to-glove" time of 1.88 seconds on his last throw to second. An above-average time from a ball hiting the catcher's glove to the covering infielder's glove is about 1.90 seconds, Scioscia said.
"What's concerning with Mike is his tendency to rush when he senses a guy gets a good jump," Scioscia said. "When a guy runs, he has to trust his arm, trust that he's going to make an accurate throw. Hopefully, he found something with that last throw [Sunday]."
One thing working in the Angels' favor Monday night: Rays center fielder B.J. Upton, who shares the team lead in stolen bases with Carl Crawford at seven, returned to Tampa/St. Petersburg for the birth of a child Monday and is not expected back until Tuesday night's game, at the earliest.
Photo: Angels catcher Mike Napoli and starting pitcher Joel Pineiro, shown last week at Detroit, will have their hands full tonight when the Rays get men on base. Credit: Duane Burleson / Associated Press